Archive for the ‘life’ Category

The business of gardening

In gardening, life, poetry, survival on June 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm

The first notion you have to give up is that everything has a right to live.

It’s not practical in the garden.

Or if  you believe it has a right to live, you have to know not all, most even, won’t make it.

This will be at your own hand.

If you are not good with this, then being a gardener will be harder on you.

It’s mostly a business of death, funny enough.


the gardener reflects on berries

In gardening, life, presence, relationships on December 7, 2010 at 6:46 pm

The gardener found saggy berries on the ground

And ones on the bush needing to be cut

The gift of something to do

The doing gives him something to be aware of

The awareness gives him something to celebrate

The celebration gives him knowledge of change

Change shows him his life

flowers have no fear

In gardening, life, survival on October 1, 2010 at 12:25 am

The flower is fearless.

It knows all about time, what love is.

Death is fine with the flower.

Like sunshine and drinks.

fooling the gardener

In gardening, life, survival, survival, time on September 25, 2010 at 7:36 pm

The gardener hunts the wilting.

He moves by the smooth and strong.

Shears shut.

If you are showing browned edges, frayed petals, droopiness, or loss of color

hide behind the bold and tall.

If you can manage it, turn a radiant sunburnt red.

These are ways to fool the gardener.

And keep the metal edge from your neck.

A day is a day.

In that time death could come.

My dog introduces me to my teacher who introduces me to my new life

In gardening, idtenity, life, relationships, Uncategorized on September 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm

At Carl’s Jr., I like the Big Burger meal — just a bigger patty — with extra pickle. At McDonald’s, the Southern chicken sandwich has taken over the Quarter Pounder as my top pick – it’s a decent copy of the Chick-fil-A chicken classic which I always prefer but CF is further away.  At In-n-Out, I go protein style (wrapped in lettuce, no roll). At Jack’s, the chicken strips are thick, firm, good. The same goes for Arby’s and Popeye’s though, if I had my choice, Popeye’s gets best of the chicken pick. 

Recently, I have been eating at these places less frequently. I think the reason dates back to the summer of 2008 and the other -worldly man who introduced me to the garden in my backyard though he has never seen it. I hope I will see him again. I hope he sees this. I want to thank him. He changed the course of my life.

He walked out from the heavy morning mist at the dog park behind the high school. Very small, old, Asian.  Even through the haze, the bent, beat-up parked car held together by rust that he stepped from stood out. He was wearing huge orange earphones — the kind used by the guys on the airport tarmac who signal the planes into the gate with cone flashlights. He shuffled towards me. I can hear that sound now: crisp, sandpaper, took me back to me in the feet pajamas we wore as kids. What was that around his neck? An old-fashioned cassette tape deck from 1970. The thing must have weighed 4 pounds.  Still something about him — his age, size, smile, soft countenance — told me not to fear, and not to laugh, in fact to pay attention. There was something here.

“Precious dog,” he said.

I stroked Jessie’s big black Newfoundland head. “Yes, she is.”

“If this dog is in your house, no ghosts come,” he said.

Jessie had been my true comforter for 6 years; for the first two, she was a puppy and more of a floppy entertainer.

“I like ghosts,” I said.

He straightened to his full height, at which even then he wouldn’t be permitted on the big kids’ rides at Disneyland. He looked curious, stunned, in his orange headset and vintage cassette player necklace, looking me over like I was the oddball.

“You see ghosts?”

“All the time.” This was not true, and when I see him again I will make amends;  on occasion, they visit me, not all the time.

 This conversation moved onto the names of things. I told him I don’t believe in names, that they blind you to what those things really are. This is something I have thought about for a long time. Names are convenient, necessary, for daily life — shorthand — but in the speedy transaction, the truth is lost. They cover up what is really there. When you use a name, you might believe you know that which is being named, so it makes it harder to actually see it as it is at that moment. So we miss who it is, what it is really, at that moment. Like when you go home to your family as an adult and they still warmly call you the nickname you had as a toddler. They see past your beard or your children to the person you were and still partly are but not who you are now. And at the Thanksgiving table they lovingly reach to cut your food as they did 20 years ago. That’s not the best example, but it’s in the general direction.

“You Buddha.” he said pointing at my middle.

I smiled, shook my head, and told him, No, I’m not Buddhist.”

“Yes, you Buddha.”

I believed he meant it as a compliment.

“Write your address here and your name please, here.” He was insistent.

Now, I am protective of my privacy. No one comes to our home; my parents, when they visit from Queens, sleep in a hotel. But something about him convinced me to agree. I wrote carefully, legibly. I wanted him to have my address.

Giving any information about myself to anyone was as rare as meeting a tiny ancient Asian man in feety pajamas wearing a big orange headset and some 1970s cassette player bling emerging from the morning mist. As I said, he changed the course of my life. It started there in the thick mist where you couldn’t see left or right more than a few feet .

Waiting outside my front door the next day sat a brown paper shopping bag, containing six books on Buddhism and a note from my new teacher saying that when he returned from his trip he would take me into the lowly forest of Buddhism. He signed his name. I will not share it here in order to protect him. 

A year passed from that meeting to opening and reading the first pages of one of the books. And another year before I put on the blue grippy gardening gloves and started carrying away the rocks.

I have come to believe that morning in the mist directly led me to begin, among other things, a vegetable garden.

Is this true, Teacher?

the gardener misses the garden

In gardening, life, presence, relationships, spirituality on September 19, 2010 at 2:05 pm

All he sees is what needs to be done.

The gardener cuts and cleans, carries away the dead.

He hasn’t been in the garden for days.

found in the garden

In gardening, life, relationships, time, Uncategorized on September 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm

The gardener has lost his hand shovel with the cracked green handle.

“I put it right here.” He blames his memory, his eyes, his luck, the bushes. “Right here.”

“It will show up,” his wife says.

“Wrong! Things don’t just show up, you have to go after it, nothing comes to you.”

“Then it’s in the place it should be right now. Sit with me.”

“Stubborn,” he grunts, spreading open a resistant rosemary bush.

“Go out and get another then.”

“It fits me, we have a history.”

She makes room. “Same with us.”

He stops and sits.  “Oh, if I ever lose you…”

“I will find you.”

“Can you find my shovel?”

the business of gardening

In gardening, life, relationships, tolerance on September 18, 2010 at 3:10 pm

The gardener is briefed daily.

Presentations from stems and blooms and bare patches.

The confrontation between the cacti and the water system is going well, considering.

Meetings with the weather and the soil on short and long term challenges are on this afternoon’s agenda.

september morning in the garden

In gardening, kindness, life, relationships on September 18, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Cold in the garden

I wonder how you slept

Let me breathe on you

death is an everyday thing

In gardening, life, poetry, relationships, spirituality, time, tolerance, Uncategorized on September 7, 2010 at 5:46 am

You have to have the stomach to be a gardener.

The breaking and the ripping away.

Death is an everyday thing in the garden.

Clean it up and move on quickly.

Keep ahead of the feelings.

You need to live with a wall inside of you in the garden.